How to Become a School Therapist

The Basics

School therapists work in elementary to university school levels. Each level has a different job focus, while the entire industry follows the same overall parameters. All school therapists need to provide a positive, stable influence for students. They are there to help and guide students to make informed decisions.

School therapists listen and help develop goals and skills for their students for academic, social, and career purposes. There are two types of therapists: those who work mostly on behavioral and social requirements and those who focus more on career counseling. The overall goal is to provide positive growth while helping the students recognize their strengths and weaknesses.

A part of student therapist’s work also involves the health and wellness of students, where it may be necessary to report suspected neglect or abuse to fulfill these duties.

Where Does a School Therapist Work?

Most school therapists work in elementary, middle, high school or universities in the public sector. However, private schools also need school therapists. Depending on what level schooling a therapist works in, they will face different challenges. School is a demanding environment where challenging authority and facts is what students generally tend to do. School therapists work on a full-time basis, usually including summer school.

What Does a School Therapist Do?

Elementary school therapists focus on behavioral and social guidance, with an emphasis on teaching children proper behavior, ethics, morals, and social interaction. Middle school therapists also focus on social and behavioral guidance, but with an idea of improving the basic foundations already in place.

At the high school level, therapists can expect to concentrate more on career and university plans with less time on behavior and social issues. University therapists help students move from school into their careers. At this point students are adults getting ready to start life. Therapists must record their sessions, clearly and concisely in order to help listen, guide, and improve any areas of weakness for the student.

What are the Requirements to Become a School Therapist?

Education

To become a school therapist a four year degree program for a bachelor’s in counseling, psychology or social work is generally required. Core courses as well as electives emphasize on counseling, social work, and psychology. The next step is a two year master’s degree program, which may include counseling techniques for helping with academic, behavioral and social issues. It is highly recommended for school therapists to continue their education throughout their career in order to learn new developments and changes in their field.

Training

After class education is complete, an internship is generally required. The internship allows candidates to shadow a qualified and usually certified school counselor. The candidate learns their work with on-the-job training.

Licensing and Certification

State licensure and certification requirements varies, including the type of internship. Before the exam can be taken a supervised internship is necessary. Accreditation membership may also be required by the state. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and American School Counselor Association (ASCA) are two membership options.

School therapists may need to continue their education throughout their career in order to maintain their credentials.

Necessary Skills and Qualities

School therapists have excellent oral and written communication. They also know how to listen, critically think, and respond in a neutral and helpful manner. Detailed records must be maintained for legal responsibilities at the state and local level. This is particularly important if suspected abuse or neglect is reported, given it is a delicate matter.

Successful school therapists have compassion, understanding, and enjoyment of their work. Therapists need to gauge student’s personalities, abilities, and guide them in order to help them make proper decisions. After all, these are the decisions that affect the student’s life.

Opportunities for Advancement

School therapists may advance to different education levels in order to work with students of all age. They may become administrators, mentors, or educators for career advancement. School therapists can be in supervising positions to mentor and train other counselors.

What is the Salary for a School Therapist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a school counselor in May 2014 was $53,370. Individuals in the top ten and bottom ten percent salary bracket earned $86,610 and $31,960 respectively. The private sector tends to pay more in some states. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also states that hourly wage of $26.94 is average. In 2014, school counselors in New Jersey, Alaska, and New York earned the highest mean salary of $71,210, $70,900, and $64,820 respectively.

What is the Job Outlook for School Therapists?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also assessed the job outlook for school counselors, which shows a 12% increase from 2012 to 2022. Approximately 31,200 positions will change in this ten year time span. Unfortunately, lack of local and state government funding may limit the amount of overall industry growth.

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